University Council faction DAG is calling out the University of Groningen for the high costs associated with the farewell activities for outgoing members of its board of directors.
Translation by Traci White
UPDATE: 1:15 p.m., Tuesday, 30 April
University of Groningen spokesperson Jorien Bakker says that the estimated 70,000 euros for events connected to the rector’s departure are not exclusively for a party: 40,000 will be for the public farewell itself, and up to 30,000 will be spent paying for a rectoraatswisseling ceremony in the Martini church. Both events will take place on the 14th of June. Several events which are open to the public will be held in connection with the occasion in the week before.
“The RUG has an internal rule that we can spend up to 40,000 euros for farewell parties”, Bakker says. In response to the 30,000 euro rule for other public servants, Bakker says that the nature of university farewells is different from those of elected officials. “Our events are always open goodbyes, unlike the private dinners that are more common for government employees.”
Original text follows below:
RTV Noord reports that the RUG has budgeted 70,000 for the departure of rector magnicificus Elmer Sterken, who has served in the positon for eight years. The event in Sterken’s honour will be held in June, and the costs for the party are accounted for in the university’s 2020 budget.
On the DAG faction’s website, the members say they are not opposed to a celebration in principle, but they do object to the university spending tens of thousands of euros while the institution is carrying out cutbacks and staff members continue to struggle with heavy workloads.
Sterken’s festivities will be a part of the University of Groningen’s wider 405th anniversary celebrations, and RUG spokesperson Jorien Bakker told RTV Noord that the party will be a bigger public event for “students, staff and city residents.”
In 2018, outgoing University of Groningen president Sibrand Poppema’s farewell party in the Martinikerk cost 40,000 euros. According to guidelines from the Dutch ministry of the interior, costs for a farewell party for an outgoing public servant cannot exceed 30,000 euros.
Editorial note: The headline and lead of this story have been changed to reflect that the funding is being spent on multiple activities, not a single farewell party.